Designing Impactful Green and Sustainable Chemistry Workshops for High School Teachers

Jane E. Wissinger, Cassandra M. Knutson, Cassidy H. Javner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


A three-day workshop was designed and implemented with the goals of providing the training and the resources needed for high school teachers to incorporate green and sustainable chemistry into their high school chemistry classrooms. The workshop was structured to introduce the topics of sustainability and green chemistry, hands-on laboratory experiences with experiments that modeled these concepts, and personal work time for participants to develop a plan for incorporation into their own classrooms. The laboratory workshop content allowed teachers to explore green replacement experiments for traditionally hazardous high school laboratories with an emphasis on meeting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Novel polymer experiments, developed by the authors, were also performed as experiments illustrating modern approaches to sustainable plastics and how scientists are addressing the accumulation of plastics on land and in the ocean. Additionally, the polymer experiments offered a mechanism for inclusion of engineering principles into the curriculum. Lecture and laboratory content drew connections between the lesson plans and learning outcomes including the pillars of sustainability: (1) economic, (2) environmental, and (3) societal. These workshops were implemented in the state of Minnesota and attracted teachers from both rural and urban school districts. Continuing education credits were earned by all participants with the option to earn graduate credits. Feedback from three years of summer workshops (2017, 2018, and 2019) indicated nearly 100% satisfaction with the format, content, and leadership of the workshop.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationACS Symposium Series
EditorsSherine O. Obare, Catherine H. Middlecamp, Keith E. Peterman
PublisherAmerican Chemical Society
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameACS Symposium Series
ISSN (Print)0097-6156
ISSN (Electronic)1947-5918

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Multiple funding sources were secured to support the workshop. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association in collaboration with the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) provided funds for allowing residence hall accommodations for non-local participants and workshop materials. The National Science Foundation Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program contributed by supporting the work of Knutson and Javner. Additionally, funds were provided from the CSP for Knutson and Javner, to complete the 2016 online Green Chemistry course with Beyond Benign () to become “experts” in curriculum materials pertaining to sustainable chemistries for the high school level. Equally as important to the workshop was the donation of the laboratory space and stockroom personnel by the Department of Chemistry at the U of MN. A budget of $10,000–$12,000 covered the cost of each workshop with the majority of the expenses coming from the $300 stipend offered, hospitality, and on-campus parking. Notably, the chemical supplies were a nominal portion of the budget (~$250) since many of the supplies were household items. Certainly, a similar workshop could be offered at a much lower cost depending on location and stipend offered.

Funding Information:
This work was supported, in part, by the families of Minnesota and their corn check-off investment, the Center for Sustainable Polymers, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Chemical Innovation (CHE-1413862) and the MRSEC Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program of the National Science Foundation (DMR-1420013, DMR-1852044). The workshop leaders would like to acknowledge contributions from the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) (books, posters), Flint Scientific (science kits), Hayden-McNeil Lab Solutions (duplicating notebooks), and Beyond Benign (book marks, t-shirts, posters) in support of the workshop.


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